Obama the communicator

Barack Obama won the US Presidential election on the basis of his ability to communicate rapidly and honestly. The turning point of his campaign was a speech he delivered on 18th March 2008 at Constitution Centre Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in response to the attention given to controversial remarks made by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor and, until shortly before the speech, a participant in his campaign. The speech's title was taken from the Preamble to the United States Constitution: “A more perfect Union”. Responding rapidly and decisively to a situation that could have scuppered his presidential race, resulted in the words of chief speech writer becoming prophetic: "This is why you should be president."

Toastmasters teaches the ability to think rapidly on one’s feet and respond to any situation. The Table Topics are typically an occasion where quick thinking is required. On this particular evening our Sergeant-at-Arms was called upon at the last moment to offer the toast of the evening.

An intimate gathering of six toastmasters and two guests was held on Monday 23rd November. Last minute apologies resulted in the toastmaster for the evening taking on the role of timekeeper as well and no one evaluating the use of words, grammar and idiom for the evening.

The toast of the evening was to the Spirit of South Africans in light of the soccer world cup that is now fast approaching.

Transformers Toastmasters Oxytocin
Oxytocin (ball-and-stick) bound
to its carrier protein (ribbons)

Siyabonga Ndlovu presented his second prepared speech in fulfilment of the second project of the Competent Communicator. He spoke passionately about the benefits of a hug, exhorting everyone to adopt the habit of showing affection and causing the release of oxytocin: the hormone of love and bonding.

John-Peter Gernaat used his voice to fulfil project six of the Competent Communicator: this project requiring vocal variety. He enthralled his audience with a narrative of an encounter with a black mamba on a quite Sunday afternoon while going out to feed a collection of endangered parrots. Although entitled “Snakes Alive!” the mamba ended up dead and measured in excess of 2.3m. No the usual Sunday afternoon encounter….

The Table Topics Master had us guessing at the meaning of obscure words. In most cases, unable to guess the meaning, the speaker invented the most implausible story. Taking the cue from Barack Obama’s “We can” slogan Faruk DuPont explained what we do when “We can rowel”. In fact we rowel with the waves of live and prosper! (I’ll leave the intrepid reader to Google the true meaning of the words for themselves.) Siyabonga explained that locusts sawder fields of grain with their hind legs: over- flattering the locust’s destructive ability. John-Peter unfroze the word regelate by enjoying reggae late into the night. Jim Powell flensed insects from his aeroplane by flying through the clouds, leaving the grubby work of stripping blubber to the Norwegians. (Sorry, can’t resist cryptically alluding to the real meaning of the words.) Mary Byrne sang the praises of Dilbert as the King of Knapping or catching 40 winks with eyes open.

The highlight of the evening was an educational session by Mary Byrne on the purpose of offering Speech Craft to the public. Speech Craft teaches the skills of Toastmasters, i.e. the skills of public speaking: structuring a speech, use of body and voice, in a concentrated form and the participants have the opportunity to prepare at least three speeches to hone these skills. Speech Craft courses permit Toastmasters clubs to raise funds for their clubs.

Well deserved awards for the evening went to Siyabonga for most improved speaker, John-Peter for his impromptu speech, Rod Taylor for his evaluation of Siyabonga’s speech and best contribution to Ryan Ebedes for regaling us with the highlights of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The year is rapidly drawing to a close. All members and past guests are invited to our year-end function on Sunday, 13th December. Confirmation of attendance is required and should be sent to Keith Bowen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The final Transformers meeting will be held at the Morningside Country Club on Monday, 14th December and everyone is warmly invited to participate in “Transformers Survivor 2009”. So don’t sit in front of the TV watching Survivor, come and participate and become a survivor yourself. Guests are warmly invited.